Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for March, 2010

You’re My Favorite Thing – The Canyon Lands

Posted by verywellthen on March 28, 2010

While waiting for baseball season to hurry up and start – I slipped away to the canyons of Southern Utah – a place I try to get to every couple of years.

Top of Barrier Canyon, Maze District, Canyonlands National Park

I just returned from explorations of a few canyons in Southern Utah.  In this trip:

  • a hike down Horsehoe Canyon, to see the glorious rock art of the Great Gallery;
  • the up-and-down funhouse of the slot canyons of Bell and Little Wild Horse Canyons in the San Rafeal Swell;
  • walking among the gobbledygook of Goblin Valley;
  • up to the heaven-eye view toward the Navajo Knobs on the cliffs above Capitol Reef National Park.

I am in awe of the canyons of Southern Utah and all the sandstone layers of the Colorado Plateau.    So much that I’ve dropped hints around my family that I want (at least some of my) ashes carried to Southern Utah to be scattered in the canyon lands.

Do you recall in the Larry McMurtry novel where Captain Call is burdened with fulfilling the wish of Captain McCrae to be buried back at Lonesome Dove, Texas?    Captain McCrae inconveniently dies in Montana (by poison-tip arrow), but Captain Call is determined to see the task through.

I kind of think my youngest brother (and maybe others) has enough of Captain Call’s belligerent  (i.e. blind, stupid) loyalty to trek my ashes out to some remote almost-unreachable place just because I happened to mention it in a blog entry way back in 2010.

So listen up, you Captain Calls.

The place I choose for my ashes is the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.   When I first descended into the district so many years ago, I felt the contrary feelings of being more alive than I had ever known and feeling more insignificant than even the fullest night of star-gazing could ever bring.   When I looked up one of the uncountable canyons of the vast plateaus that lined the many horizons, I could see a dozen side-canyons, maybe more.  And I imagined each side-canyon to hold to a dozen more offspring canyons of their own, and on into infinity.   In a few trips back I’ve explored just a few of the Needle’s canyons, each possessing variations on impossible wonder borne of the permutations of sedimentation, compression, uplift and erosion.

My current election for the specific place within the Needles for my ashes is a place I have yet to make it to myself, Angel Arch.    The name is perfect, of course – it might even help to get this plan past my Very Catholic Mother who a) is armed with dogmatic knowledge that frowns upon the scattering of ashes and b) has so much life-enthusiasm that she will likely outlive me, and therefore be able to monkeywrench this plan.

Angel Arch is also extremely remote – which largely explains why I have not yet been there.   Most of the year there is no water and the hike is a distance greater than you can comfortably carry enough of your own water.    (There may be 4WD tours that can bring you closer – but that’s cheating, Captain Call.)

Or just get them to an easier hike nearby, maybe Chesler Park.  (Mom, I won’t even suggest Druid Arch.)  Or seal them in a marble urn and bury them in a road-side field for all I care – after all I will be gone.   The living’s wish of burial place is more a statement to self-identity than it is an unbreakable covenant.    Just nod your head, Captain Call, next time I ramble about where I want my ashes.

“Yes, Captain McCrae.   I’ll be sure to do that.”


Posted in The Heart on My Sleeve, You're My Favorite Thing | 3 Comments »

Dear Joe Nathan,

Posted by verywellthen on March 12, 2010

Dear Joe Nathan,

Sorry to hear about your elbow.    Man, that must suck.   It sucks for me, and I’m just a fan.  You’re the one with the bum elbow and the tough decisions.

You are, like, all that any of us bloggers are talking about here on the Twins-based internet (the Twins-ernet?).  Howard over at the Strib – you know, that Section 219/220 (whatever it takes) guy – he even linked to a medical video that showed how Tommy John Surgery is performed.

Wow.   That Tommy John thing is really something.   I’m sure Dr. Andrews already told you all this, but I was amazed to learn they take a tendon from another part of your body and loop it into your damaged elbow to stabilize everything.

But I also learned something else.  Sometimes they don’t use your tendon.  Sometimes they insert the tendon from another donor.  Well, that got me to thinking… and I got this idea.

You see, it’s not like I’m ever going to have a baseball career or anything.  I mean, let’s face it, my shot at glory has faded.  But then I just get ideas like the one I just mentioned and there seems to be some glimmer of hope.

So I’ll just say it.

Joe.  It would be so incredibly awesomely cool if … if you’d use my tendon for your Tommy John Surgery.  I mean, if that’s the route you’re going to go.

I mean, I’m just imagining you coming in and blowing away Pujols on a nasty slider to lock down the 2011 World Series, and I’d be high-fiving my friends at the bar and screaming… SCREAMING!!!… at the top of my lungs, “That’s my tendon!  That’s my Palmaris Longus Tendon!”  Oh gawd, that’d be awesome.

I’ve always said I’d give a testicle to be a major league baseball player.  And here I’d only have to give up a little ole arm tendon I rarely use [Note to self: check on limitations of missing P/L tendon.  Can I still type?  Click a mouse?].   I mean, it still wouldn’t be me out there mowing ‘em down – you’d be doing all the real work.  But just knowing that there’s this little part of me helping out … that’s all I’ve ever wanted.    Don’t worry, they’d still be cheering for you, Joe.  But I’d hear Target Field a’rockin and though they’d be chanting “Joe! Joe! Joe!”   I’d hear them chanting my name instead.  It would be like one of those fantasy baseball camps times a million.

I’d even pay you to take my tendon.  No, really!   I (as in ME) pay YOU for MY body part.    [That way, I don’t even think it would trigger any of those anti-organ-selling laws.]    I’d be willing to go as much as $500.   I’d offer more, but I still need, like, my MLB Extra Innings package and everything.

I’d have to ask that the Twins pick up the cost of my surgery too.  Do you think they’d spring for that?  It’s medically related to your surgery, after all.  And one more thing… after my tendon is harvested (yes, that’s the medical term) I’d like that the surgeon work with a tattoo artist to have my arm-stitches look like stitches on a baseball.  [Do’ya like that?  Maybe you could do the same thing with your stitches.]   As for my stitches, when I’m at the bar, with my friends, and us cheering you and the World Champion Minnesota Twins (yow!),  I would show everyone my baseball stitches to emphasize my point.   You gotta admit, Joe.  That’d be so eff’ing cool.

Let’s say that we keep this a secret, Joe.   If word got out there, I know there’d be others who’d pay dearly to do the same thing — I probably shouldn’t have told you that : )   But, as I’m sure you’re aware, there are a lot of obsessed fans out there.   I mean, how many guys have had there ashes scattered at old Yankee stadium?  You can buy a coffin with a licensed Red Sox logo on it, for christsake.

I’ll be honest, it’s not like I’m going to get far in a bidding war.  But since it was my idea Joe, if you pick me, I’ll be sure you get the credit for all this.  I mean, why hasn’t anybody else thought of this?!   This is the next big thing in athlete and celebrity endorsements.

You could be the pioneer of this, Joe.   Tommy John was first with the surgery and his surgery fame has outperformed even the fame of his very fine pitching career.    You, too, could live on immortally.    Every pitcher with a torn UCL will face the same reporter question:   “So, Tommy John Surgery, huh?  Who’re you going to grant your Joe Nathan Rights to?“

You should probably check with Dr. Andrews to be sure this would work.  Maybe he wants a better “specimen” than me – I’m not in too bad of shape or anything, I got this treadmill in my office and all.  But maybe there’s like a blood-type compatibility thing.    Wouldn’t that be awful, Joe, if your body rejected my tendon after the transplant?  And what if that happened in the bottom of the ninth in the ALCS against the Yankees?    I’d be to Twins’ fans what Bartman is to Cubs’ fans.

So maybe I should think this through a bit.

You know what, Joe?  I don’t need to think about it.

I can’t worry about what might go wrong.   I’m willing to take that chance.  I got to go seize the moment.  And if A-Rod knocks one out of the park, so be it.   The grumpy columnists might be unkind, but I have to be fearless and not let the fear of failure control my life.

But you know that.  That’s the heart of a being a closer.  And maybe, the tiny little woven elbow-bracing tendon of a closer too.

With or without me, Joe, good luck with the decision.


Your Brother In Arms (ya’ think?)

[UPDATE: The post above was originally posted on March 12, 2010 while Joe Nathan was facing the decision on whether or not to have Tommy John surgery.   The next day Howard Sinker of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave my post a prominent (and kind) excerpt and link on the Strib’s Twins website.     Joe elected to have the surgery using his own ligament.  The surgery was performed on March 26.    The Star Tribune quoted Joe, just before the surgery, as saying “I told him to put Usain Bolt’s ligament in there if they have to.”  I like to think that Joe Nathan was inspired to make the joke of using another person’s ligament after reading or hearing about my post.]

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | 2 Comments »